Panel formed to examine, implement AI staff integration

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Air India
New Delhi, Feb 15: A fortnight after a committee submitted its report recommending various measures to integrate the 29,000-strong staff of merged Air India, a three-member panel has been formed to examine it and work out a time-frame for its implementation.

Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh set up the new panel and asked it to examine the recommendations of Justice Dharmadhikari Committee and prepare a schedule for their implementation in its report to be submitted by first week of March.

The Dharmadhikari Committee, which had submitted its report on January 31, had gone into all aspects of integrating the employees of the erstwhile state-owned airlines -- Air India and Indian Airlines.

Besides working out the principles of integration across various cadres and determining the levels and seniority, it had gone into several aspects including pay-scale rationalisation, restructuring and career progression.

The three-member committee now formed by the minister would have Joint Secretaries in civil aviation ministry and department of public enterprises, Prashant Shukul and A K Sinha respectively, besides IFFCO's Director (HR) R P Singh.

The recommendations of the Dharmadhikari Committee report would come into force after this panel submits its report in the first week of March, an official spokesperson said.

A Group of Ministers on aviation, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, had on February seven suggested that the Dharmadhikari committee recommendations should be examined by the first week of next month.

The panel would study the Dharmadhikari recommendations and give its comments on their implementability, keeping in mind the employees' interests.

It would also examine the functional viability of the cash-strapped Air India, the financial implications and other practical aspects of implementing all the recommendations, the spokesperson said.

The committee would also give an implementation schedule indicating the priority of implementation of various recommendations, he said. As on December 31 last year, the total staff strength of the carrier, which was merged in March 2007, stood at 28,500.

Almost five years after the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, the Dharmadhikari panel had submitted its report on integration of these employees of the unified national carrier, including pilots, cabin crew and engineers.

It has brought the wage structure of the merged organisation strictly under legal parameters so that it conforms with the guidelines of the Department of Public Enterprises, which caters to public sector undertakings.

Cash-strapped Air India, which has 14 unions representing all sections of its employees, has suffered three strikes since its merger, including two by its pilots.

The thorny issues raised during these agitations included pay parity and career progression between the staffers of the two erstwhile carriers.

Delayed payments of salaries and allowances have also been critical issues which have led to unrest among employees. These factors have also resulted in several pilots and other highly skilled staffers quitting the company and joining others.

PTI

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